The Athens-Clarke County metropolitan area serves as an employment, cultural, educational and business center for surrounding counties and all of Northeast Georgia. Easily accessible from US-441, US-78 and GA-316, with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport only 80 miles away. Located 20 miles from I-85 and 30 miles from I-20, Athens affords easy access to the City of Atlanta and the port of Savannah, and the Athens’ own Ben Epps Airport is a mere three miles from the heart of downtown. CSX and Norfolk Southern provide freight service in and out of Athens, with lines running directly to the Athena Industrial Park. Long marked on the map as a center for the arts, learning and cuisine; a music capital; and home to the University of Georgia and Athens Tech, Athens is also noted for a rich manufacturing history and a strong industrial base. From food processing to pharmaceuticals, to plastics and now Caterpillar bulldozers, numerous manufacturers have flourished in Athens-Clarke County for many years. Boasting a diverse business mix, Athens is home to major Fortune 500 companies and local entrepreneurial startups alike.

The vibrant college town of Athens, Georgia is known for its unique blend of traditional heritage and trend-setting Southern culture. Home to the University of Georgia, America’s first state-chartered college, Athens and the University have grown together over the past two centuries and developed a distinctly urbane academic and artistic culture.  Numerous art galleries are filled with works from local artists, and the Georgia Museum of Art hosts traveling exhibitions. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is one of many public gardens that capture nature’s beauty in Athens, home to America’s first garden club. Guided and self-guided tours of 15 historic districts and four house museums representing a range of architectural styles provide a glimpse into the past. Athens is a notable stop on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, both for the extent of antebellum architecture that was spared Sherman’s March to the Sea and for the number of Confederate leaders who had homes in this area. Athens’ downtown has been designated a historic district, and the restored Victorian-era buildings remain as vital as ever, housing an eclectic mix of restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, professional offices, living space, and world-renowned music clubs.  The vibe and creative energy that gave birth to R.E.M and the B-52’s are alive and well today!





Susan Chatham Bogardus

Susan Chatham Bogardus

Market President, Senior Vice President, BankSouth

Susan Chatham Bogardus is Market President and Senior Vice President with BankSouth. She has been in banking in the Athens area for over 30 years. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Susan is active in several civic and community organizations including serving as an active member of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Center for Housing & Community Research, and the Athens Area Home Builders Association. Susan was an Athena Award nominee in 2011 and 2021 and participated in the 2015 Dancing with the Athens Stars for Project Safe. Susan received the Community Involvement Award from First American Bank for her work in the Athens community, as she often does community programs on credit, budgeting and banking at the schools and for other groups on a volunteer basis. She previously served on the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors as well as the Athens Housing Authority Board.

7911 Macon Highway,
Watkinsville, GA 30677
Phone: 706-363-9921

Kelly Girtz

Kelly Girtz

Athens-Clark County, Mayor

Professional Experience: Director for Student Services at Foothills Charter High School (2015-2018), teacher and administrator with Clarke County School District – W.R. Coile Middle School, Classic City High School (1998-2014). His initial term as Mayor began January 8, 2019.

Civic and Community Service: Currently: Board Member of Family Connection / Communities in Schools, Board Member of ACTION, Inc. Former: Board member of Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, Board Member of Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia, Junior League of Athens Advisory Board Member.

Government Experience: Athens-Clarke County Commissioner (2007-2019), Mayor Pro Tempore (2008)

Education: Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Old Dominion University (1993); Master of Arts in Teaching, Piedmont College (1998); Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership, The University of Georgia (2006). 

Personal: Married to Andrea Griffith-Girtz, father to Noah Girtz. Enjoys live music, travel, carpentry

562 Pulaski St.
Athens, GA 30601
Phone: 706-369-9457

Ilka McConnell

Ilka McConnell

Director of Economic Development, Athens-Clarke County

Ilka McConnell began her career in financial services, but soon followed the call to public service, working in public service & outreach at the University of Georgia with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and UGA’s Archway Partnership, facilitating community working groups in Hart County to put strategy into action in the community’s priority areas of leadership development, education/workforce development, tourism development, and planning & visioning for the future. McConnell then served as Vice President of Economic Development at Athens Technical College, and as Manager of Gwinnett County Government’s Economic Development team before becoming Economic Development Director for Athens-Clarke County Unified Government in April 2020. She loves Athens and is humbled to have the opportunity to serve her community.